"We don't do email, email does us"
Gloria Mark et al have done the unthinkable: empirically observed people working in a modern environment without email for a whole work week:
We report on an empirical study where we cut off email usage for five workdays for 13 information workers in an organization. …Our results show that without email, people multitasked less and had a longer task focus, as measured by a lower frequency of shifting between windows and a longer duration of time spent working in each computer window. Further, we directly measured stress using wearable heart rate monitors and found that stress, as measured by heart rate variability, was lower without email. Interview data were consistent with our quantitative measures, as participants reported being able to focus more on their tasks.
The results are not surprising, but it’s good to have solid evidence to back what many suspected. What is astounding is that the experiment got carried out at all.
(The quote in the title is by Sherry Turkle, taken from the paper.)